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'March Madness' hits political fundraising in California

March 16, 2012 | 12:35 pm

California politicians are caught up in March Madness, but their version is as much about filling campaign coffers as watching college basketball
Like many people, California politicians are caught up in March Madness, but their version is as much about filling campaign coffers as watching college basketball.

Several state legislators are holding March Madness fundraisers this month, going as far afield as Las Vegas to mix game-watching with check-collecting.

Those tying campaign events to the basketball tournament just this week include state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes (D-Sylmar), Democratic Senate candidate Joe Coto and Democratic Assembly candidate Tom Calderon.

Fuentes and Hernandez set their fundraisers, for ballot-measure committees they control, in Vegas, with the senator offering supporters two nights at the Aria Resort and Casino for $5,000 in a "March Madness Celebration" package that includes "multi-screen viewing of NCAA college basketball tournament games.''

Fuentes' event today is at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, where he will be collecting campaign cash while rooting for Pac-12 representative Colorado "since his beloved UCLA Bruins didn't make the tournament,'' said spokesman Ben Golombek. Hernandez went to Indiana University and has picked the Hoosiers to win the whole thing, said spokesman Rob Charles.

Tying campaign fundraisers to popular sporting events is a good play, according to Allan Hoffenblum, who tracks campaigns for his California Target Book. "There are so many competing fundraisers, and the lobbyists get so bored,'' Hoffenblum said. "So the candidates have to do something a little different, something fun, to get people to show up.''

ALSO:

California lawmaker seeks plea deal on gun charges

State ethics panel delays posting judges' financial disclosures

Panel exempts city officials from conflict rules on appointments

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: Anthony Davis (23) and Marquis Teague of the University of Kentucky, a March Madness favorite. Credit: Mark Cornelison / Lexington Herald-Leader

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